Sunday, December 18, 2011

Copyright, Dickheadedness, and Love

I redesigned the blog, somewhat. I kind of wanted to make it less gloomy looking, even though now, when I want to express gloom and doom, which I enjoy doing and do often, I'll have to work harder at it.

A couple of people whose blogs I follow and whom I admire redesigned their blogs lately, and they had really nice looking blogs already. I wondered about that. Had the people who host these web logs put in some new software they wanted to try out? Are they particularly courageous people? Do they have a lot of spare time on their hands?

I had been tired of how my blog looked for some time, but didn't have the time or inclination to do anything about it. I devoted yesterday to the redesign, at the expense of furthering a little short story I just started and am kind of excited about. For me it was like getting a hair cut. I put it off and put it off and then finally get so tired of putting it off that I do it. Like the hair cut, I don't like how it looks. I''m just glad to be done with the self recrimination.

Here, by the way, are two versions of a picture I wanted to use in the header, followed by the original. I was trying for something in between the first two, but ran out of time and inclination.


 The original was in a file folder full of pictures I was going to consider using, but I got so wrapped up in making the header I did make  that I never even looked at them. C'est la vie. Mine, anyway.

 I don't see how the forms for designing a blog have changed very much. It's harder for me to find way around in that area, is about all, but that could be me, too. They say technology advances more rapidly all the time, and it was advancing a little too fast for me already.

I tested out some new ideas on another blog I started once -- but never did anything with -- when I was working in the oil and gas fields. I sometimes was at wells where they were doing fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, where they pump chemicals down into the ground at high pressure to break up the rock so more oil or gas will flow out. When he was vice president, Dick Cheney, who had been the president of Haliburton, the biggest frackers of them all, had gotten a law passed that said they didn't have to say what was in the fracking fluid. It was supposedly because it was a trade secret, but the real reason, I'm sure, was so environmentalists couldn't look up the chemicals and then announce how dangerous they were, how cancer causing and birth defect causing they were. It's Dick Cheney, after all. It was a Republican administration, after all.

I was working on a contract basis, for a contractor, and I was asking a lot of questions out there, about how the industry is organized and things like that, trying to get a grasp on the parameters of the business and logistical end of it.

The guy I worked for had seen my resume, of course, and so he knew I'd been a newspaper reporter. He flew us to where we'd be working, and we were supposed to stay for four weeks, then he'd fly us home for a week off. My first time out, I stayed six weeks, and then he flew me home, and he never called me back. When I didn't get a call after my week off I called him to see what was going on. He wouldn't answer the phone and didn't return my messages, and I suspect he suspected my motivations for being out there. Maybe not specifically, but all my questions might have made him wonder. Maybe.

I had planned to get a sample of fracking fluid and get it analyzed, and then either give that information to an environmental group of write about it myself. Probably both at once. I don't know if it was the reason he never called me back. I just never talked to him again. He owed me about $125, too, but I just let it go. It was terrible work, and I had only taken it out of desperation, and the fracking fluid idea just came to me after I got out there. It could have been other things, too. It's a strange world out there, that business. It's all contractors, people who come from all over and don't now each other and are suspicious and wary of each other. It's like truck driving in that regard. It's like life in general, but more so.

Anyway, I did the redesign, but I started this post intending to talk about copyright. When I was trying out my blog redesign ideas on that other web site, I saw that there was a place on the web log form for you to put a copyright notice on your blog.

When I started this web log I put some kind of copyright notice at the bottom. I post little short stories once in awhile, and I wanted control of those, and I wanted the name Bubba Muntzer to be under copyright protection.

It's probably not common knowledge, but a copyright notice isn't needed for something to be copyrighted. The act of publishing something gives it automatic copyright protection. But even newspapers, where they know this perfectly well, will put a copyright notice on a big, exclusive story. That's just a way of them saying 'Hey, this is a big, exclusive story, and we know it and we want you to know it and more to the point, we want you to buy a paper because advertising rates are always based on a paper's average paid daily circulation, OK?'

I know a copyright notice isn't necessary, too, but I use one anyway. It's like putting up a No Trespassing sign. It doesn't make trespassing any more illegal. I wanted to talk about copyright because I got to thinking about why we, I, want things to be copyrighted. It's the profit motive. It's about who, if anyone, will profit from my work, my ideas, my creativity or even, in some cases, my good fortune.

By profit I mean not only monetarily, but in other ways. Writing, creating, blogging, of course, has the potential to bring someone fame and fortune. It could, potentially, mean a different lifestyle than the one we are living, a lifestyle that seems easier, better. A big, sprawling house with a view, with a big garage with one or more really cool cars in it, a clean refrigerator, better sex partners than we have now.

Or, sex partners. The existence of sex partners.

But we, I, write, we create, we state our opinions, we blog, for more than one reason, and each of us has her or his own set of reasons. Not everyone expects to profit monetarily. But we don't want someone else to profit monetarily, or to profit in some of the other ways we profit or hope to profit, either. Hence, copyright.

But where, in the psyche, does all of that reside?

The image of that other lifestyle, the image of someone else getting it, from our production, and the desire to deny them that, resides, of course, in that nexus of fear and greed that enshrouds the conscious mind, which is the conscious manifestation our ego conjures up out of unconscious urges and presents us with, unconscious urges to live and survive and to make sure our progeny survive, urges that can get way out of whack under Capitalism.

Some people, mostly people of Leftist political views who are engaged in trying to find ways to have a better world, among which are finding ways to manage those very conscious and unconscious urges, by the way, now copyright things under something known as the Creative Commons License.

It's a very interesting concept. It's a new kind of legal framework for copyright and for intellectual property rights. It's a way to retain some control over your production but in a way so as to not be a dickhead about it. If someone wants to borrow your stuff and use it to make a better world with, fine, but if they just want to use it to profit, no. You are able to define which rights you retain and which you give up freely.

Put another way, a Creative Commons copyright means someone can use your stuff if they are not going to profit from it, whereas classic copyright law means that you can't use my stuff, period, for any reason.

Creative Commons copyright, then, means I want some control over my production but I'm not going to be a dickhead about it.

And not being a dickhead is a necessary precondition, at this historical juncture, here where we are right now, at this late stage of Capitalism, as it lurches from one crisis to the next, as the opportunities for the Capitalist class to profit dry up and they have taken to profiting by extracting more wealth from we, of the working classes -- which is what Neoliberalism is, concisely -- and with all the fear and loathing and suspicion that an economic system careening down this particular path is bound to engender, it's a good thing there are people who are trying to put into place systems and structures and forms that will allow us to, at least, be less dickheaded, to attain the less dickheaded precondition, by systems and structures and forms that remove some of the barriers that prevent us from expressing what we actually need to be expressing, that prevent our production from being for the purpose of what we are naturally inclined for it to be for, which is, in my estimation, love.

I assume everyone has had the experience of meeting someone who at first seemed like a dickhead, but when you got to know them, you saw another side of them. Maybe you entered into a social system, like a workplace, and were treated harshly by this person. You asked someone about them and they said, "Oh, that's just his way."

After time, or by way of being forced into regular close proximity with this person, you discovered that there was, indeed, a real person in there, a nice person, and if you are of an analytical bent you knew then that the harsh exterior was a defense mechanism. For some people, life has been so mean that they assume a preemptive meanness. It's a type of defensive shell. I'll get them before they get me. This will keep them at bay. It becomes habitual, unconscious.

Almost invariably there is a nice person behind the protective shell of anyone. We want to be nice. It's our natural state. We naturally love other members of our species. Even other species, other living things. Inanimate things even.

To express love is our natural condition, our natural inclination, but the social structures we live under, which are determined by the Capitalist economic system and all that it requires of us if we are to survive under it, cause each of us to form some kind of defensive shell. You can reform Capitalism, as happened from the 1930s through the 1970s. You can put a kinder face on it, but it's just a matter of degree, and as we see happening now, with income and wealth disparities back to where they were in the 1920s, the forces that drive Capitalism reassert themselves, and reassert themselves in the particular ways they do because Capitalism, and its ideological partner Conservatism, are nothing but ways of managing our lesser natures, our greed and fear.

All the while we walk around behind a shield. A facade. Our public face. Only with those people we know well are we able to let down our defenses, be nice, friendly, kind, loving. But that loving core is always there, in all of us. It's our natural state of being, and if you take an honest account of your life, of all your normal daily interactions and what their nature is, you have to realize that we can't attain that natural state under Capitalism, at least not many us us can, not more than a few of us.

In fact, having more material wealth sets into motion psychological processes that result in being afraid we are going to lose it. The rich and famous rarely even appear in public. Their circle of trusted friends shrinks, and it's not simply material loss they are afraid of. It's the mental, psychological, emotional demands people put of them, that they begin to avoid at all costs.

They buy their way out of their condition. They give a percentage. They start foundations in their own name. Between that and the material satisfaction and the power and the ego trip, it's enough, but they can't enjoy the simple pleasure of walking down the street smiling at everyone and wishing them a nice day. They can't know the joy of loving all the members of one's own species, of loving, and being loved, by everyone, of sharing what you have, that is, of distributing wealth equitably, of relinquishing  your rights of ownership even if just a little at a time, of not doing the opposite, not being caught up in the mad, unnatural process of accumulating more and more, much more than we physically need, which is what Capitalism is.